Rome (Italy). On 5 July 2022, ended the virtual pilgrimage in Portuguese “A yes that extends over time” to the places of the Salesian charism, offered by the Formation Sector to the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians from 70 years of age onwards.

Rediscovering Mother Mazzarello in her Christian and Salesian vocational experience lived as a gift and gratuitous offering to others, and re-reading her own history in a wisdom and charismatic key with hope and joy are the objectives of the “virtual Mornese pilgrimage” consisting of two appointments per week – every Tuesday and Friday – proposed in the name of the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the FMA Institute.

Here is the expression of gratitude for the experience from the Portuguese-speaking group:

We are a group of 72 FMA over the age of seventy who, alone or in community, networked and formed a ‘family’ with Mozambique, Angola, Portugal, and Brazil. The Portuguese language has a common element, but we all listened to and also spoke the sweet language of the Founders!

We ‘steal’ a very beautiful phrase taken from the beginning of the Circular n° 1019 of Mother Chiara Cazzuola, which expresses how much our soul lives for having stopped virtually in Valdocco, Mornese, Nizza, and… in Rome. “Pausing in these places is always going home to rediscover one’s identity and charismatic roots”.

We reread and contemplated with joyful hearts and with infinite gratitude, the richness of the Charism. We have seen and heard Daughters of Mary Help of Christians with inflamed hearts. We put ourselves in communion, first timidly then more naturally, creating unity from one to the other in a family spirit.

There was a great surprise. We entered with a wide-open heart into the very room where Mother Chiara was with the General Council. We saw, admired, listened, talked, and… we blew a kiss, which immediately bounced back with a big, mischievous smile. All in the name of simplicity, naturalness, the warm and moving relationship of the Family.

“This beautiful invention of technology gifted us with the opportunity to personally visit the dear places of our origins. And this is a help, a strength, because it calls us to rekindle the fire, as Mother Mazzarello writes in Letter 27, ‘Rekindle the fire of our belonging to Jesus first of all and to the Institute.’ This binds us, makes us strong despite the difficulties, despite the precarious times we are experiencing. We can go forward peacefully because we know we are in the hands of the Lord.  Thus, this bringing us back to our origins also gives us the awareness of living such a beautiful and great project. (…) The objective of the Chapter, which was precisely to reawaken the original freshness of the vocational fruitfulness of the Institute is linked to the future of the Charism. You are the greatest patrimony of the Institute. It is the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. Without them, what do we do with the houses and works and the rest? Only people guarantee the continuity of the Charism. Then we want to give each other our best wishes so that this great fidelity may still continue, and we commit ourselves to pray for the fidelity of all the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. Thus, we all ask Mary to intercede for the gift of many holy vocations to our Institute, beautiful, joyful, and as fascinated as you are”, said Mother Chiara.

It was truly a very moving experience at our age, to participate in the “graduation ceremony” as we concluded the pilgrimage in Mornese with grace and gratitude. An atmosphere of joy and jubilation was breathed while, for the Provinces, we were given the certificates of participation by the FMA Institute.

We can only express gratitude for those who gave us the opportunity to experience this beautiful ‘Mornese Project’; for those who made time and talents available; for those who accompanied us in time and space to bring together the past and the present of Turin, Mornese, Nizza, and…  Rome. Thank you, thank you, only thank you! Years and health do not always allow participation ‘in person’, but even virtually it is a great gift!

Other resonances of the participants:

“Our community is very grateful because we decided that it would be formation for all in preparation for the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Institute. And we have not regretted it. A thousand thanks!” (Provincial Community of Portugal).

“I feel the concern of the Superiors in providing us with these experiences in contact with the sources of the Institute, which are a great wealth”.

“The virtual pilgrimage was fantastic. For me it was a gift from God, a grace of the Holy Spirit. A return to the pure sources of the Salesian charism extended over the course of these 150 years. The happiness of all the sisters who participated was for me a testimony of a life given to the Lord with so much love, dedication, and joy. I thank Mother Chiara and her Council, who allowed us to recall the ‘Spirit of Mornese’ experienced by our first sisters. Thanks to the team that you prepared with so much care and Salesian spirit for these moments so rich in spirituality as to feed the flame of love for God and for the mission”.

“It is a great joy to participate in this project, because it renews in our hearts the enthusiasm for religious life”.

“It was a good experience thanks to the work done in Rome, in the Generalate, and by the animators in Brazil. Thanks also to Sr. Nieves Reboso, Councilor for formation and to the collaborators of the previous six-year term!”.

“I experienced gratitude for having thought of the FMA who, due to their age, are abandoning the more active life lived since First Profession; revitalization, through the encounter, albeit virtual, with the ‘sacred places of the Salesian Holy Land’ and the Charism. Trust, despite the lack of personal strength and the lack of vocations in the Province, because the Institute continues to be ‘all of Mary’. It is she who does everything, inviting me to do ‘what He says’. I’m sure I used what I could. I leave more confident and more ready to live the new year as much as possible as God wants”.


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